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Friday, 22 February 2013

Friday Five: Five cover versions that are better than the original recordings.

Hello from sunny Sussex! I'm on my holibobs this week, and having a marvellous time so far. In fact, I've been so busy, I was panicking a little about finding inspiration (and time) to write my Friday Five. In stepped my Dad to the rescue, with some mood music that inspired this week's list (and a Mrs Merton-style heated debate, with lots of googling of songs and reminiscing- great fun!)


Cover versions evoke strong reactions- some love them, some hate them. Personally, I loathe unnecessary "do-overs" (Lenny Kravitz's cover of The Guess Who's "American Woman", anyone?) but a cover version that keeps the spirit and beauty of the original while doing something new with the melody is a joy to hear. Here are five of the best examples, in my opinion. Let me know if you agree! 

1. Never Going Back Again- Matchbox 20 (originally by Fleetwood Mac)

I love Fleetwood Mac, and "Rumours" in particular, but the twinkly niceness of this track jars with me when compared to the epic awesomeness of, for example, The Chain, especially so because they chose to sandwich it between the haunting poetry of "Dreams" and the anthemic "Don't Stop". Matchbox 20 took a dream and twisted it into something dark. Gorgeous...

2. Seven Nation Army- Nostalgia 77 (originally by The White Stripes)

The White Stripes did it well, but this screamingly soulful cover-version did it better. I actually got tingles the first time I heard this. I was in a bar in Nottingham, waiting to see a Counting Crows gig, when the stomach-crunching hook dragged my feet over to the harassed barmaid to demand she tell me what was playing. She obliged, and I am forever grateful.

 3. All Along The Watchtower- Jimi Hendrix (originally by Bob Dylan)

If I felt like a traitor over my first choice, this one sits even more uneasily on me. Bob Dylan is a legend, but Jimi made this song an anthem. Additionally, anyone who has seen Withnail and I will no doubt know exactly what I picture when I hear the opening notes.

4. Dance Me To The End of Love- Madeline Peyroux (originally by Leonard Cohen) 

Whereas the original is depressing and slightly weird, the wonderful cover version is dreamy and wistful. It even inspired a product by Lush- it's that lovely! Actually, most of this album is pretty awesome and is well worth a listen.

5. With A Little Help From My Friends- Joe Cocker (originally by The Beatles) 

Always a letdown after the opening track of "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", Joe gave this soul and the powerful voice it deserved. Much better, and even my Dad agrees- sorry boys!

So, do you agree? Can you add any more to the list? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Well the one that comes to mind is the Sleeper version of 'Atomic' - originally by Blondie. It appeared in the film Trainspotting. Shows my age!

    1. Me too, then! Love that version- got more punch in the intro.

  2. Expected to see heard it through the grapevine in your list seeings as you converted me !!

    1. It is THE ultimate cover version! I didn't want to repeat it, as I'd already put it on a Friday Five. But, yes- probably my favourite x

  3. Great post Lou. I can't say I have any favourite covers, at least I can't think of any. I like that 'Dance me to the end of love' one that you chose though. Have you seen the painting by Jack Vetriano of the same name? I love his paintings, People say that art critics don't rate his art, they say he paints for the masses, but I don't care, I love them. My favourite is The Billy Boys

    1. Thanks, Nan. Madeline Peyroux has a beautiful voice! You should try her album x

  4. I couldn't think of five :-)

    "Running Up That Hill" by Placebo (original by Kate Bush),
    "The Man Who Sold the World" by Nirvana (original by Bowie),
    "Sweet Dreams" by Marilyn Manson (original by Eurithmics)

    1. I completely agree with all of those! Placebo's cover of Running Up That Hill is just amazing and gives me shivers... I remember watching MTV Unplugged just after Kurt Cobain died and crying when he sang The Man Who Sold The World. Sweet Dreams was pretty much the first song I learnt to play on bass- simple but effective! Epic contributions, John- thanks!


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